If there is one thing I am not a fan of, it is trying to come up with a formula for “church.” Simple Church at its core is about following Jesus and allowing him to lead us as individuals and as a local church. There is great opportunity to experience Christ this way in the context of simple church. When you are simple in form and not tied to meeting times and agendas, you can experience a lot of freedom in what you do when you get together for “church.”
That being said, I think that it could be a mistake for leaders to not have a loosely held plan to help those in your simple church community focus on Christ and do the things that we see the church doing in the New Testament. It is in that spirit that I would like to share with you the 3/3 outline that Curtis Sergeant, a disciple and church multiplier, advocates. In the coming weeks on this blog, I am going to be sharing some of Curtis’ training tools that I find very helpful and challenging. Curtis has used this type of format in the context of his larger training for simple church multiplication all across the globe.
SIMPLE MEETING FORMAT
LOOK BACK (1/3 of your time)
Care: Share a meal, a refreshment, a story from this week, or an answer to prayer. How has everyone’s personal relationship with God been? If anyone is struggling, pray for him/her, and stay after to care for that person.
Check-up (Never skip): How have you obeyed what you have learned? Who have you trained in what you have learned? With whom have you shared your story or God’s story?
Vision (Never skip): Share a story from the Bible, a personal story, an inspiring slogan or song to encourage one another to share Jesus with others, to start new groups, and to help others do the same. You can use one of the following Bible passages to get started: Matthew 28:18-20, Luke 10:1-11, Acts 1:8, Luke 19:1-10, Matthew 13:1-23.
LOOK UP (1/3 of your time)
Talk with God simply and briefly. Read and discuss. Ask God to teach you this passage. Read this week’s passage.
1. What did you like about this passage?
2.What did you find difficult about this passage?
Read this week’s passage again.
3.What does this passage teach about people?
4.What does this passage teach about God?
LOOK FORWARD (1/3 of your time)
Obey. Train. Share. (Never skip): Have everyone in the group pray for the Spirit to show them how to answer these questions, then make commitments. Write the commitments down.
5. How will you obey this passage?
6.Who will you train with this passage?
7.With whom will you share your story or the story of God?
Practice (Never skip): In groups of two or three, practice what you have committed to do in question 5, 6 or 7. For example, role- play a difficult conversation or facing a temptation; practice teaching today’s passage, or practice sharing the Gospel.
Talk With God: In groups of two or three, pray for every member individually. Ask God to prepare the hearts of the people who will be hearing about Jesus this week. Ask Him to give you the strength to be obedient to your commitments.
Last week, I tried to apply just the simple “Look forward, Look Up, and Look Back” outline for our time together and I did find it to be helpful. We usually eat first in our simple church gatherings, so we had communion with a meal during which we “looked back” on what Jesus had done on the Cross and in our lives the past week. From there we “Looked Up” as several shared scriptures (I had asked everyone to bring a verse to share). We ran out of time so our “Looking Forward” was mostly a short challenge and a time of prayer and reflection. While we didn’t follow the outline exactly, I did find that it was helpful to frame our time together by thinking about these three postures of the heart.
I look forward to trying to incorporate some of these ideas into future meetings. Again, this is not suggested as a formula but some possible tracks that may help us in hosting gatherings that are Christ-focused and Christ-led. I would only note (as does Curtis in his trainings) that the accountability be done in love with gentleness and respect. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
Click here to download a handout that Curtis provides that includes more about the 3/3 meeting format, suggestions for passages, as well as several other important aspects of making disciples and multiplying simple churches.